- In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the availability & prioritization of vaccine groups. Read More below.
- CDC has released new guidance with is first set of public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people. CDC's intent is to continue to update the guidance based on COVID spread, proportion of fully vaccinated persons, and evolving vaccine information.
- Canada approves 4th COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) as Pfizer agrees to accelerate deliveries.
- The D.C. links restaurant dining and a lack of mask mandates to the virus’s spread in the U.S.
- U.S. on ‘tipping point of another surge,’ COVID-19 experts warn. While there has been a plateau of cases, numbers are still high. Additionally the B.1.1.7 variant (first discovered in UK) is rising; wherein a few weeks ago, cases were only 4% of all COVID-19 cases, the B1.1.17 variant is now identified in up 40% of new cases. Read the news from Marketwatch or CNN.
- The WSJ reports on a mini-study (with limited participants) in which the P1 COVID-19 variant has limits when up against China’s CoronaVac vaccine. Study of Aggressive Covid-19 Strain in Brazil Suggests Limits of China Vaccine.
- 'Tip of the Iceberg': Interpol Says Fake COVID-19 Vaccines Were Smuggled Across Continents from China to South Africa. With over 2,400 illegal and fake doses shipped, this “the first confirmed instance of fake vaccines being smuggled across continents”. “The vials were found among a large batch of counterfeit N95 masks, and that two individuals were arrested in connection with the haul: one was a Chinese national, the other a citizen of Zambia.”
- Europe staggers as infectious variants power virus surge.
- The Dalai Lama Gets A COVID-19 Shot And Urges Others to Get Vaccinated
Recommendations for Industry
Vaccine Eligibility by State and Continued Protection
As vaccine availability continues to roll out across the country, states continue to prioritize different groups. To help the food industry understand when their workers will be eligible, TAG has developed a new offering: a weekly status updates on food worker eligibility. For each state, the matrix includes:
- Current eligible phases
- Food Processor/Manufacturing/Distribution eligibility status
- Retail Food/Grocery eligibility status
- Foodservice/Restaurant eligibility status
- Expected date of food industry eligibility status
- Source of information
Although vaccines are becoming more widely available with the distribution of the J&J vaccine, in addition to those of Pfizer and Moderna, we are not seeing a decline in cases in the U.S. Additionally we are seeing an increase in the proportion of cases of the B.1.1.7. variant (first detected in the U.K.). In January, a CDC report estimated that this variant would become the predominant strain by March. With a rise in B.1.1.7. cases from about 5% in January to 40% today, we are seeing exactly that trend occurring, and would expect it to continue and fulfill the CDC prediction.
Because of that, we are continuing to urge all businesses to continue all precautions – and we are seeing many of our clients following that advice. Even in states that are fully reopening, many of TAG’s retail/grocery clients are maintaining limits, continuing to require masks, and maintaining protections for both their employees and customers.
In Case You Missed It
- In Friday’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss Considerations for return to work with some states lifting their COVID restrictions. Read More.
- Surpassing previous expectations, the US is now averaging 2 million vaccines per day, yet NPR reports that as COVID vaccinations are speeding up, there are increasing reports of “doses going to waste”; some of this is due to appointments not being met, while others occur due to improper storage, freezer breakdown, etc.
- An increasing number of states have rolled back mask mandates and other measures (including Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Montana, and Iowa). However, as USA Today reports, many major American retail chains and businesses will continue to enforce policies requiring masks in stores.
- STATNews has put together a short read-through about the potential outlook for “The Short-Term, Middle-Term, and Long-Term Future of the Coronavirus”
- Not everyone is able to get the vaccine right now; VICE offers some thoughts on how to not get stuck in Vaccine FOMO and Jealousy!
- In happier news, the Great Apes at the San Diego Zoo are now the first non-humans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine!
- Yesterday, Brazil’s Fiocruz Institute sounded another alarm that the pandemic is worsening in Brazil (ICU’s are above 80% occupancy in 19 of 27 districts) brought on by increasing transmission, high test positive rates, and growing cases and deaths, and two SARS-CoV-2 variants (P1 and P2). In fact, Brazil has been reporting daily record COVID-19 related deaths.
- As we discussed Monday and Wednesday, the World Health Organize reports that new COVID-19 cases in Europe have increased by 9%.
- Also on the brighter side, global Influenza A and B cases remain sporadic and low.
- In Wednesday’s Recommendations for Industry, we discussed the flattened rate of COVID transmission increasing the urgency to maintain all protections and TAG’s US Risk Matrix. There is potential that cases may be rising. Read More Here.
- With a new vaccine on the market (Johnson & Johnson), the New York Times breaks down what vaccine efficacy numbers mean.
- As part of the National Consumer Protection Week, the FDA has announced (and is warning the public) of the importance of being aware of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams. As we have stated before, please be wary of untoward vaccine offers.
- Although the CDC has long decried the use of hydroxychloroquine to fight against COVID-19, the World Health Organization now echoes that sentiment declaring that there is no evidence of benefit for its use.
- A meta-analysis and systematic review of convalescent plasma has found that, ultimately, there is no real benefit of convalescent plasma (although it was granted an EUA by the FDA in August 2020).
- A research letter printed in JAMA found that those who had previously been infected with COVID-19 – then later received a single dose of mRNA vaccine, had “higher antibody titer responses”. It is important to note that the sample size is small (n = 59) and there is still much more research needed. However, the researchers state that “given the ongoing worldwide vaccine shortages, the results inform suggestions for a single-dose vaccination strategy for those with prior COVID-19 or placing them lower on the vaccination priority list.”
- Germany will extend its COVID-19 lockdown measures through March 28, 2021.
- Thousands of farmworkers in the United States, who ensure the functionality and supply of our food system, are being prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination!